The Journeyman

You know where to stand, at 06:45,
on that concrete and slab pier,
above the meadow where I walk
into that sunrise,

which you will travel towards,
irritated by its flicker at speed
and jealous of my steps
through dew grass,

and further irritated by these,
my slow observations
of high-wire catching,
weighted, cobwebs,

as you journey into the Bridge,
on a service which sucks
out your life,
out of which
no holiday survives.



that is not your shadow
which you make a claim upon:

it is off the same sun,
but from another country.

That shadow is of you,
but not yours,

it is land-grabbed
from the owner,


from the same place,
as other places,

but, without any care
for border crossings.

The Tease

I cannot recall her name,
pretty as she was,
taking me on that crossing
to the island, the other side,

holding my hand,
a new experience,
of other’s bone and flesh,
before only my own:

She made me balance, barefoot,
with my shoes strung, because
the weir head, a concrete slab,
was our submerged bridge,

rushed cold by the constant
flowed inches of water;
then we were there,
over, into the skinny woods,

no tree much older than her,
she being older than I,
in amongst tight saplings,
and there she pushed me,

against a thin trunk.
We called them ‘snogs’,
her breath inside me,
and her roaming tongue,

as foreign as a thick snake,
it performed a dance,
charming me, hardening me,
but it was then stopped:

A laugh, a man watched,
and she touched again,
to feel her effect on me,
and they walked away.


awake at 3.30
where you sleep
writing at 5.30
here in the east
to the wired hum
of the ceiling fan
my breath circulates
as pre-planned
to assist my sleep
in this Israeli heat
which at midday
will force my retreat
but now disturbed
by my body’s pain
my dreams      my freedom
are gone again
until I return
to my forced collapse
this mid-afternoon
pain-free       relaxed
under sleep’s drug
I’ll relish       once more
my prior state
far time zones before

Dusted by the fallout,
now grit-showered,
the weight of white
on their protection,
on their masked faces,
still ringing in the ears
of their hearing,
hours after digging,
each child-cried to find:
A short limb of victory,
as they fight war’s
They wage their own,
without weapons,
but pictures.


Flight LGW 8365 to Bari

The couple stood,
him a gruff man,
she with her layered,
read-long suntan:

There holding up all,
at the boarding gate,
demanding to stand,
and to debate

their low place stood
in the boarding queue:
We paid for priority,
that’s what we do!

I swayed behind him,
on my wobbling body,
his complaints were valid,
but manners quite shoddy.

On the return flight,
we watched with a smile,
them embark from the front
jumped to first in line:

Paid for Priority,
they marched to the gate,
and EasyJet profited,
from their not wanting to wait.

Their Waiting

On my screen,
a palm held light,
I am led into Aleppo,
to a hospital,
where the staff stand,
waiting for the rushed
on foot or trolley,
the cradled,
the carried,
the blasted,
the burnt,
the broken,
now entering
this mending place,
where bloodied bodies
are assessed;
here a bandaged baby
delivers its screams,
as loud as
the now-bereaved;
torches are
a switched solution
with the power cuts,
in this hospital,
which provides
a temporary fix
of things.

The Sun Dial

Our potted approach, by uneven kerbs of stones,
to a solitude, this sun-aligned home:

It took a thousand paces to measure the olive grove,
stepped, metres-squared, hectares, in Ostuni,

at a surveyor’s pace across rock-tilled soil,
along the perimeter and back to the starting point,

where the building is rooted between trees,
the house, the grove’s only fixed shade-maker,

where shadows are not altered, not by leaf growth,
not by bough collapse, not by plough,

but constructed, like the conceit of time,
over God’s rough footings, instead, now telling the false hour

by the drawn-line’s shady cower: And, as if to throw more doubt
on His creation, they even command the water:

a blue rectangle of fifty lengths, measured out in wave slaps,
off an English breast stroke, as an echo, the puffs of breaths.

The coal-black dog hunts down lucertole,
those too-quick-Italian-for-lizards,

hid under unearthed rocks, those rotor-turned,
their blank faces bleached, but not sunburnt.


Return Ticket

I have 
booked, again,
a return to
that dry place,

where his death
in the holidays
killed my faith
in families,

seven years 
and I am still
not ready

to fly there,
to be my brother’s
to be mistaken

for him
when shopping,
or standing,
being Chris

for those
who insist
I am him.

Happy Families

“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.” — From Mother Night, Kurt Vonnegut

Published on Facebook,
a happy deal of cards,
a knave-free life,
for his re-fixed wife,

whilst we looking ‘Likers’
know the truth –
no honest comments,
because that’d be rude:

We transmit our pleasure,
but rarely the pain,
eighteen-rated marriages
are never Facebook-explained.

Bluebirds Over

A programme of contrails for Eastbourne,
held over, circled, then the low-flown
aircraft burst through the scuttled wisps of nimbus.

Above the beach of shingle – levelled by pop-up chairs,
and picnic squares, of towels and blankets
(for dads’ brief nap) –

the crowds watch, stiff-necked
by aircraft performing overhead,
deafened by the scream of a Eurofighter.

Mutterings in the afternoon bar
slightly sour the mood,
thick racism in those heat-slowed voices,

and they would rather have Spitfires,
than any recently banked, now gone,
European accord.


A locking up, that is my take home
from the prelude of last night’s dream:

I was in a workplace, which I walked through
in my dressing gown, obviously, and, suddenly,

each terminal was beyond my ability to use,
each terminal then being already used,

no seat, no desk, an anticipation
of my future, my redundancy.

They found me, in that dream, hobbling,
and returned me intact, assurances that

I was welcome back.

As long as I am wanted, for what I can,
not given space, because of what I can’t.


Drive east out of Ringmer,
then turn left, before Earwig Corner,
accelerate on hedgerows’ chase
– parallel to Will Craig’s place;

there, on the driver’s side,
fields turn to skipped Caburn,
and your breath, to then be taken,
by the county’s only rotations

of three-armed grace,
under over-blown blades:
You now accelerate, drop-thrilled,
past the singing windmill’s hill,

and over, and down,
beyond the tilted crown,
across the bucked landscape,
on lanes, bough-scraped:

The hard-driven route,
gear-stick, de-clutched,
but then slowed by the stopped
that wide-load between weather.

First Home Game, Brighton

Our team’s flags rattle,
pegged vertically
into the Landie’s wing mirrors,
a parade-worthy sight
on Uckfield High Street:

Yet, there’s still cricket to be played,
summer holidays to be taken:
That slow countdown
to term time.

Equally slow on the Lewes bypass
“Sheer weight of traffic”:
We park in the ten quid garden,
and follow the path to the ground,

down through the  brief woods,
there, returning to The Amex,
with sun bathers on the banks
outside our East Stand!

Nottingham Forest?
One of the boys asks
about Clough, the Senior,
and their lost glory-days.

Twenty one stripes
cross the pitch,
every white line
rolled out crisp.

Seats slow-warmed
by our returned ars*s,
for the re-run return
to Premiership chances.


We pulled up before
the Brexiters’ gates –
raised higher by
a new bit of fence:

Seeing this barrier,
smiling, she said,
That’ll not halt
the immigrants..

Instead, it transpired,
the fence was raised,
to cage their dog,
not exclude a race.

[Thank you Bella May for the quote]

The Swimmer

I didn’t know her name,
before this play of Games,
but she, Yusra Mardini,
the swimmer of that sea,
pushing on, to cross again,
as a refugee, an Olympian:
She trod waves in the Aegean,
over long-drowned Queen Aegea,
there they swam, towing to shore,
a fearing load, that smuggled horde:
Dropping once more over the side,
into the pool, her place, her life,
but no more acfearful Syrian,
Mardini has arrived, she is swimming.

Car Hire Story

“I do prefer travelling on my own,
She’s two hours early
for everything:
Had a lovely car, a Yaris;
I saw my model out there.

“This Yaris was fantastic,
had everything on it:
The kids Bluetoothed,
Leave it I’m driving
I don’t want it on! I said.

“Coming in to land,
landing at five-fifteen,
through by six:
Hire car place not open
until eight in the morning!

“Had a coffee:
Couldn’t pick it up until 11:
They would call me, Have a coffee,
Already had fucking three!
No calls from them over five hours.

“But my son rang me,
See my number was working,
I said to the woman,
so they gave me a
hundred dollar discount.”

Dead Duke

The Duke of Westminster is dead, today,
Who the fuck, I hear you say,

Gerald Grosvenor, billionaire, sixth Duke,
interned in Ecclestone – it is no joke.

No longer sat in Eaton Hall,
his yard, ten thousand acres all,

To be passed to his (youngish) lad –
being entitled isn’t so bad!

Three days a year they open their gates,
to give to charity, from God’s own estate.

Within succession, an obligation there,
to raise a few quid, three days each year.

No inheritance tax, to save our state,
instead a trust, ensures none paid:

The richest aford the best in advice,
whilst the others live fucked-over lives.


I step in these thick-soled carpet slippers,
aware that some floorboards will creak
when I tread and apply too much pressure:

I try to avoid such strain on places,
that will attract low complaint,
of the short pleasures which I take,

such as readings, or speeches,
I see these as our common duty,
that none of us should shy from,

because this life is not
about waiting to die, at best,
not in thick-soled carpet slippers.

The Gift

He cut off his ear, that story in time,
Vincent, later the locals’ fou roux,

a manic, in delirium, brushing oil on
carton, and canvas, around Provence.

He left the internal, and the eaters’ dour,
to the landscape lunacy of colour,

a brush-dabbed constellation,
of his very centre, Rue du Bout d’Arles:

A road of girls, and brothel doors,
over screaming complaints of whores,

to intolerance, in House Number One,
a late request of Rachel, for her a parcel,

a remembrance of him, a part of him,
in Gethsemane’s cut and betrayal:

Gauguin had left, and a knife
of violence upon himself.

Dr. Rey noted, a severed artery,
and a hat disguising his slice.

Van Gogh walked to the girl, in the brothel,
To gift her him, that which needing healing.

The Pebble

My dad threw me a bag,
and only when I was holding
the weighty smooth sureness,
of that contained pebble, he said:

It had been removed
from a young girl’s skull,
post-mortem, it was
noted, the cause of death,

after being shot up
from its settled place,
on a wide roadside verge,
by a spinning mower blade.

Never intended to kill,
that bullet-bit remnant,
water course washed,
a history left to geology,

but now removed by blades,
from the land, and the lain,
cut from a rough bank,
and then cut from her brain.